Buffs Send Seniors Off With 500th All-Time Win
BOULDER — The University of Colorado volleyball team recorded its 500th all-time win on Friday afternoon, defeating Utah 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-17) at the Coors Events Center.
The Buffs were already celebrating the careers of their two seniors, Alexis Austin and Nicole Edelman, and it was an afternoon they won’t forget. Austin recorded 14 kills, seven digs and two blocks, while Edelman had 38 assists, two kills, nine digs and four blocks in the win.
“Milestones for this program are fantastic,” head coach Liz Kritza said. “I think 500 wins for any program shows the strength of this program. I’m really honored to be coaching this program and coaching these kids to get this really significant win. At home, with the particular seniors we have, it makes it even more special. We’re really proud to represent this institution. To be able to come up with this win in this fashion, that is who we are. That’s what we’ve been and that’s why this program has gone from where it was to where it is.”
The match was the regular season finale for the Buffs, who are still in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament berth. CU boosted its resume with its 19th win of the season (19-13) and finish fifth in the Pac-12 standings with an 11-9 mark. The selection show is Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
“I’m going to try and not think about it too much so I don’t drive myself crazy,” Edelman said. “I think we’ve done all that we can do and controlled what we can control; now it’s just a waiting game.”
No matter what, this was the final match Edelman and Austin will play at the CEC, so getting the win was extra sweet.
“It feels great to get that last win here, especially since it was a team effort all the way around,” Edelman said. “When we went down in the first set I think we really did a good job of coming together and finding our rhythm, since we knew that we could beat them. I just want to thank my teammates for everything and pulling that win out today was really special.”
“I just want to thank my teammates, since we can’t do anything without them,” Austin said. “It was great to pull off the win in the last match.”
The Buffs recorded 10 hitting errors in the first set, but they fixed the problem and had just five errors in the final three sets. CU hit .444 in the third frame with 13 kills and one error on 27 attacks.
“These guys know how to play,” Kritza said. “We can have very frank conversations. I could tell them we dropped that set by six points and it’s probably our worst hitting percentage in a set that we had all season. They know what that means; it means that you can’t give up six unforced hitting errors and expect to have the results that we want. They calmed down. When you have such a discrepancy in your hitting percentage, it’s really hard to win.”
Sophomore Gabby Simpson led the team with 17 kills while hitting .361. She also added five digs and four block assists. Austin had the second best hitting efficiently at .323, recording four errors on 31 attacks. Sophomore Joslyn Hayes added nine kills for the team.
Colorado put up 13.0 team blocks and were led by freshman Naghede Abu’s nine blocks. Three others, sophomore Anna Pfefferle, Edelman and Simpson, each posted four block assists.
Adora Anae led Utah with 21 kills and picked up 10 digs. She also posted three blocks for the Utes. Kendall Cygan recorded 15 digs in the Utah effort and at the net, four players posted three blocks each.
The Utes (10-21, 4-16 Pac-12) came into the CEC with nothing to lose and started the first set with a 14-7 lead. CU recorded the first two points out of the break, which included an ace by Hayes, but UU answered back with three points of its own (17-9). Utah had a 20-12 lead when the Buffs recorded a 5-1 run to bring the score to 21-17, forcing the Utes to take a timeout. UU took the first point out of that break and was able to finish the set 25-19.
Colorado got out to a slow start in the second set, but came back to take the lead at 9-7 with five straight points. Utah took a timeout, but the Buffs didn’t slow down, increasing their advantage to five (14-9). The Utes got back within three points (15-12), but CU came back and this time put six points between the two teams (19-13), forcing UU to take its final timeout of the set. The Buffs were able to increase the lead to seven (21-14). CU had set point at 24-17, but the Utes fought off four straight points before Austin ended the set on a kill (25-21).
The Buffs had a 10-5 lead in the third frame when the Utes took a timeout. CU kept attacking and went up seven points (16-9) midway through the game. The Utes cut the lead to five (17-12), but Colorado was first to 20 (20-13). The Buffs increased their advantage to 22-13 after a Utah timeout and easily wrapped up the set 25-15.
The fourth set again saw CU take a 10-5 lead. Utah took a timeout after CU had a 13-7 advantage, but the Buffs stayed in front, controlling the set with a seven-point cushion at 17-10. At that point, the Utes put together a 3-0 run, forcing the Buffs to take a quick break (17-13). UU took the first point after the timeout, but the Buffs answered with a kill from Pfefferle. Again CU went ahead by six (21-15), causing UU to take another timeout. The break didn’t slow the Buffs down and they finished the match 25-17 with a block by Pfefferle and Hayes.